Page images

really true, as is now generally asserted by the disciples of Mr. Malthus, that a redundant population is the cause of all the misery and vice which exist in society, surely the punishment of those by whose selfish gratifications such a state of things is produced cannot possibly be too severe. He who brings a being into existence, for whom there is no longer any room left, who introduces a guest after the table is already full, ought unquestionably to be obliged to surrender his own place.

But in order that the proposed check to population might interfere as little as possible with the wishes of individuals, persons under the legal age might be allowed to marry, provided that others who had attained that age consented to take their place on the scale. But, in that case, the latter must remain in a state of continence, as many years beyond the legal age, as what the former were deficient. But such exchanges, which of course must be limited within certain ages, the rich and the poor might be both equally gratified; but the principal advantage, a circumstance by no means common, would rest with the poor. For they would not only be thus induced to put off the evil day, but, by the premium they would receive for giving up their turn, they would be better prepared for entering on the marriage state at a future period.

That by such a law the population might be restrained within any required limits, there cannot possibly be the smallest doubt ; but I am fully persuaded, that by bettering the condition of the poor, by bringing them up in decent and cleanly habits, and by giving them such an education as would enable them to reason on the means best calculated for promoting their own welfare, all legal enactments on the subject would be rendered quite unnecessary.

[blocks in formation]


1-P-, M. D.


We have often discussed the causes and probable consequences of the religious controversies of the day. The dissensions of Christians have alike excited the contempt of the Infidel, and the astonishment of the Impartial. Surely there must be some fixed principles, by means of which the Almighty giver of Christianity has enabled us to maintain union, while we would preserve truth. The form of Church government adopted by the Apostles was intended to accomplish these objects. Nearly all the errors and divisions, which have disgraced the Christian world, have originated in some perversion of that primitive Episcopacy, which was of divine institution. Arius opposes his Bishop ; -Papal Rome usurps jurisdiction over independent surrounding Churches; or Calvin, Knox, Wesley, and others, in their zeal to reform, reject the Apostolic mode altogether. The dissensions of Christians will never, I fear, be removed, till the primitive regimen be restored, and their several societies again submit to Episcopal government.

Episcopacy, however, was appointed not only to prevent parties without, but to extinguish divisions within the Churches :

to this subject alone I wish at present to direct your attention. Many, whom we have just reason to value for their benevolence, their disinterestedness, their piety, and talents, believe it to be their duty to support the Modern Popular Societies. Others, no less eminent for these qualities, as conscientiously oppose them. Of the two parties thus equally entitled to our respect, and pursuing opposite systems of conduct, the proceedings of one must be more worthy of our approbation than those of the other ;-which then are we to imitate? As members of one society having one God, one faith, one altar, one discipline, it is our duty to follow one rule of action. A knowledge of the obligations which Episcopacy imposes upon us to act in concert with our ecclesiastical superiors, for the more effectual promotion of the public benefit, will enable us to come to a right decision in every difficulty. My sole object, in giving the following pages to the world, is, to do good, by proposing a plan which shall most abundantly increase the advantages, resulting from the exertions of the several popular societies. It is a plan which unites at once the universal diffusion of the Scriptures and the Gospel of God, with deference to the authorised Governors of the Church, and fidelity to the institutions of the country.'

In dedicating these pages to you, I am happy in the opportunity of assuring you, how sincerely I am,

My Dear Sir,
Your obliged and faithful friend,


« PreviousContinue »